A few days later I headed south with two days in The Big Easy, aka New Orleans, LA. Once again Jenn Li, continuing her sabbatical across America, had arrived a few hours earlier and was waiting for me at our AirBnB that she found.
We didn’t know how much we were going to eat in New Orleans, but we had been warned: To know New Orleans is to know food. And we were about to “know” food. The biblical kind of “know.”
Let me just warn you ahead of time that this post is mostly food porn and should be NSFW.
Staying nearby the French Quarters — they very main attraction of New Orleans according to everyone we’ve talked to, we walked through the city’s famous nightlife, passing by impromptu movie sets and pedestrian-only roads filled with street musicians and open doors beckoning visitors to come inside.
On our first night we took a cab from The French Quarter to Bacchanal in the 9th Ward, an outdoor restaurant and winery featuring live jazz and frequented mostly by locals.
We also got to meet Kimberly River Roberts at the entrance, the main character of the Oscar-nominated documentary Trouble the Water. She was so charming we even bought a copy of the documentary from her.
At Bacchanal, we had:
- Bread and butter, radish, parmigiano reggiano butter, truffle
- Butternut squash, san marzano tomatoes, fregola sarda, oregano, sherry vinegar
- Roasted goat cheese in olive oil drizzled with mushrooms, herbs, and crostini
- Roasted pork belly, green apple, sultana raisins, capers
- Clams, pumpkin, cream, sage, crostini
- Chocolate bark, extra virgin olive oil, marcona almonds, sel gris
Afterwards we headed to Cafe du Monde for its beignets and coffee, famously perfected since 1862:
The next morning we enjoyed at early brunch at the previously mentioned Conchon for Cajun Southern food in a more upscale setting. There we had:
- Wood-fired oysters with chili garlic butter
- Fried alligator with chili garlic aioli
- Fried boudin with pickled peppers
- Rabbit & dumplings
- Oyster and Bacon Sandwich
After brunch, we walked a short 4-5 city blocks from Cochon to the National World War 2 museum, one of New Orlean’s top attractions and rated one of the best museums in the country.
The museum ostensibly features the can’t miss, kid-friendly immersive “4-D” theater experience that gives a bird’s eye view of WW2 with the docu-drama narrated by Tom Hanks, Beyond All Boundaries. Be prepared to see something you’ve never seen before!
Afterwards we took a cab down Magazine Street to Sucre, sampling the locally famous King Cake and its countless other sweets:
On our third morning we headed to Surrey’s in the Lower Garden District, a restaurant famous for its Creole brunch.
At Surrey’s we had:
- Shrimp & Grits – Louisiana gulf shrimp sauteed in New Orleans BBQ style over a bowl of grits
- Bananas Foster French Toast – French bread stuffed with bananas and cream cheese, topped with a classic bananas foster sauce of run, brown sugar, bananas, and butter
Afterwards we headed back into The French Quarter to check out the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, site of the first United States apothecary shop to be conducted on the basis of proven adequacy (ie the guy who ran this apothecary was the first to pass the US licensing examination for pharmacy).
Then we stopped by the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium, featuring tons of icky creepy crawlers that fed well on my former arachnophobia, and yet concluding with a ironically pleasant butterfly garden:
We then headed northeast and walked along the coast of Lake Borgne, to the east of NOLA.
…before wandering upon a tourist-friendly street fair on the northeast corner of the French Quarter:
After that we tried to find dancing and live music on boisterous Frenchman Street, but nobody else was feeling it (I guess Thursdays aren’t the new Fridays yet in NOLA). We gave up after a few tries.
Undeterred to believe our night was over, however, we hopped in a cab for a 20 min drive from The French Quarter and waited at a gorgeous cafe for a seat to open up at Jacques Imo’s Restaurant.
We started eating at Jacques Imo’s at 11pm, exactly when the kitchen was supposed to take its last orders. But rules didn’t matter as they kept their kitchen open just for us until midnight. Thank goodness they did because the food at Jacques Imo’s was worth the wait:
- Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake
- Deep Fried Roast Beef Po-Boy with gravy
- Blackened Redfish with crab-chili hollandaise
- Austin Leslie’s Fried Chicken
- Rabbit with shrimp and tasso pasta
- Cakes cakes cakes for dessert
And stuffed like omelettes by the end of the night, we savored the last vestiges of food coma and hibernated like bears until we had to catch an early morning flight back to NYC.
Thanks for feeding us well, NOLA. We feel a bit dirty.
– At time of posting in New Orleans, it was 53.6 °F – Humidity: 70% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: rainy